(This article was originally written as an assignment for my Digital Skills class.)
Despite a losing record since the All-Star break ended, the Wizards were able to officially clinch a playoff spot on Monday, March 30th when the Charlotte Hornets lost to the Boston Celtics, 116-104. This didn’t come as a surprise seeing as last season they qualified for playoffs for the first time in six years.
But, there is a huge difference between where the team is now with only a few games remaining in the regular season and where they were at this same point last season.
The Wizards went 18-11 after the All-Star break in the 2013-14 season. The current season is not quite over yet. But so far, the Wizards have gone 11-12 since this year’s All-Star break ended.
Last year’s team was on an upward path that led them to a first-round upset of the Chicago Bulls and pushed the number one seed Indiana Pacers to six games in the second round of the playoffs. This year’s team is slowly limping to the finish line.
The team’s recent play has left people to ask:
What has gone wrong for the Wizards, particularly in the second half of the season?
One of the biggest problems for Washington this season has been injuries. Bradley Beal has not been able to play consistently this season due to multiple injuries. He missed the first nine games due to a broken left wrist and eight more games in the middle of the season due to a mild stress reaction in his right leg. Kris Humphries missed 16 games after the All-Star break due to a groin injury. Garrett Temple has been out for the last 12 games due to a right hamstring strain. Martell Webster also missed the first 30 games while he was recovering from an off-season back surgery.
This does not even count all of the minor injuries that other players sustained throughout the season.
Another major problem has been their ability to regularly defeat quality teams. For the season, Washington is 12-22 against teams with a .500-or-better record. They are also a combined 3-10 against Eastern Conference contenders Atlanta (0-3), Cleveland (1-2), Toronto (0-3) and Chicago (2-2), all of which they have a chance of facing off with again in the playoffs.
The Wizards’ play this season, especially over the past two months, has left many fans with mixed feelings.
Brendan Smith, a longtime Wizards fan, said, “Their play really took a decline after the All-Star break. Losing to the likes of Minnesota and Philadelphia in a row just isn’t acceptable.”
Other fans, like David Dunn, disagree. “Wizards season appears to be a tale of two seasons, but it was actually one of consistency,” Dunn said. “Take out the outliers, and the team performed up to their talent level. This allowed them to dominate bad teams, compete with mid-tier teams, and struggle against the cream of the crop.”
However, most fans agree that the Wizards have to improve their game for the playoffs.
“To be successful in playoffs this year, the defense and just general effort needs to increase and Bradley Beal is going to have to have some of the progression that we all expected out of him this year,” Christopher Thompson, a lifelong Wizards fan, said.
If the Wizards cannot escape their troubles from the regular season, then it is possible that DC will not rise again this season.